“Language-twisting-twisting”

Words are always following me. They hang above, trailing me wherever I go. Constantly composing, re-forming, re-stating. Once I have a moment of peace or silence, they flood me like the deluge…. An onslaught of compositions, essays, poetry, and random statements.

I am used to this constant internal narrative. It’s been there for me all along, so it’s all I know. Constant and normal. But I do have to work to keep it productive and not obsessive. Once I open the gates to the flood, it is hard to retain balance. To find the prior equilibrium. I’m working on it, but it is an ongoing battle. A battle I enjoy, really, so I am at least thankful for that!

The more I write these thoughts and think things out in words, the more I find it’s not really about the words at all. The individual words, meanings, or technical skill. It’s not even about the literal story. No… it’s really only about conveying a concept. Communicating a feeling. Incepting pictures to the hearts and minds of others and to myself. The words themselves are meaningless, but together with intention and imagination they create, transform, and build.

Feeling these concepts in my writing, spirited and soulful concepts, is the goal. I hope I am on the right track. It feels good, and moves me passionately, so I think I am stepping in the right direction. The pictures of the soul are so much more communicative than any human written piece could aspire to be. Transformative, intimate, touching. These pictures are the ones I reach for and hope to glimpse.

Amazonian shamans have a distinct relationship with words. They talk and describe their spiritual journeys and ayahuasca dreams in far-reaching metaphors that seem nonsensical to the outsider – but they make perfect sense to them. They tell us that this is the only way one can know the unknowable and examine the unseen. To get close. To glimpse.

They describe this as tsai yoshtoyoshto, which means “language-twisting-twisting.”

In his wonderfully readable memoir about his studies in the Peruvian jungle with indigenous peoples, The Cosmic Serpent, author and anthropologist Jeremy Narby posits why they must speak in twisted language – the “language that is double and wrapped around itself.” The shamans use their koshuiti, or particular song they sing, during their hallucination dreams in order to communicate with what they are seeing. They say:

“With my koshuiti I want to see – singing, I carefully examine things – twisted language brings me close but not too close – with normal words I would crash into things – with twisted ones I circle around them – I can see them clearly.”

Here, we could infer that normal language does not let us know these concepts adequately. We need the metaphoric meaning, as this is the only real way to see. Mental pictures cannot be described in mere words. They are concepts, feelings, pictures that reach beyond and within the self.

I have been writing my poetry stream-of-consciousness style for a while now, and I am only just grasping the pictures and concepts that it conveys to me. When I write, I try to let it flow unhindered, and it naturally comes out in rhyme. I’ve decided not to fight it – indeed, maybe rhyme is the best way of seeing the universe?

I will heed to the “language-twisting-twisting” as it shows me what I cannot see in this rationalistic, brain-based world. It shows me the language of the heart…in singsong.

*

I want to know, but feel unrest.
I want to formulate the best.
And so I must take my time…

Pyramids are built in rhyme.

What is “Enlightenment?”

What does it mean to be enlightened? My husband and I were arguing about it the other day.

Okay – after writing that down and looking at that statement again, I laughed to myself out loud. What an absolute JOY to be arguing about enlightenment! Of all the trivial things we could be discussing, we have a heated argument about the credentials of transcendence.

Back to the subject at hand: What is enlightenment? What does it mean to have this label or state of being?

Is it the long, painstaking acquisition of some mysterious body of knowledge?

Is it the emptying of yourself to transcend this ordinary life?

Is it necessary to spend years “in the wilderness” or temples in order to achieve it?

Is it necessary to swear off your family, friends, life possessions and trivial pursuits in order to claim it?

I don’t feel that detachment from reality or the act of “acquisition” is the real answer.

As my honorary grandfather Mel (over at Melting-Pot Dharma) might perhaps say, it is recognizing the Buddha within. It is seeing the connection, rather than the detachment, of the world around you.

Some of us need the temples and wilderness to know this, and others do not. But in recognizing the divine that is already there, and working to keep it top of mind, THAT is enlightenment in my opinion.

I was discussing this with my husband, who (I think) holds in the back of his mind that “enlightened” ones of high regard will have physically worked and put time into developing this title. But do they? Where do we get this assumption? And why do we demand these qualifications to this kind of title? Is it because we have such high expectations of this level of “achievement?”

I think my husband might think this, in part, because he has spent years studying Shaolin Kung Fu. He has put in his time. Almost 13 years of time.

To him, the discipline and practice is what makes you the master, the teacher – and in a lot of ways, we see other “enlightened” ones as teachers, or expect them to be. Masters of some kind. In Kung Fu, if you put in the time, effort, and dedication you are rewarded with opportunity to teach others and to be an example to others. This comes with – and is expected of – the titles and degrees.

So it goes with our modern society. We like to see teachers, self-proclaimed “experts” and masters as having the necessary credentials in order to lay claim to the designation (i.e. licenses, graduate school, years in the wilderness, years in the temples, etc.).

But when applied to spirituality, and awakened-ness, I think this is slightly a flawed assumption.

Credentials are conditional, and the state of so-called enlightenment is not conditional. It is like an unconditional love. It exists without any presumption or prerequisite.

It exists because life exists.

Recognizing it does not take work and time in the human sense; it only takes desire and openness to see beyond the material and spiritual borders we ourselves have drawn. Whether that takes years or minutes should not affect your “enlightened-ness.”

You do not need credentials to know divinity; to know God.

But I do agree with my husband that in order to teach this “knowledge” you need to find your proper credentials, the ones that speak to you. You need time to sift this out. Find your footing. Relax into the role if that is what you are after. Build trust with the world on your viewpoint.

But to be an “enlightened” person doesn’t mean you are going to teach, and it certainly doesn’t mean you claim to be an expert or a master. You just are, and are eternally becoming.

To me, to be awakened is to realize the interconnected-ness of all. That separation is an illusion. That there is a divinity within us that we don’t have to strive for or work to achieve – only to yield. Because it’s already there in its imperfect perfectness.

After discussing this with my husband, and tearing up a bit (as I usually do when talking about interconnected-ness), we both ended the discussion with a thoughtful “Hmm.” The best way to end a discussion…a little open-ended.

Do you really need to empty yourself to transcend this fleshy existence? Enter into the void that is above and beyond humanity?

I don’t believe there is some magical transcendence of reality, or the emptying of the Self. I don’t think there is some divine void above humanity.

It is within humanity.

Love it with all your heart.

*

In the end, isn’t Enlightenment just another label, another set of constructs that we set upon a preconceived notion of our most ideal selves?

What is your ideal state of being? Mine is love;  infinite love, and I try to always keep it at the forefront.

Husband, thank you for discussing these themes with me. I love you to the cosmos and back ❤

Upshift

I feel like I’ve been in an incubation period. Insular and isolated. Not by any specific day to day circumstance, but by my own inner need. Some form of metamorphosis.

This is, I realize, a very grand term to apply to my own personal growth, and rather presumptuous. But what else emerges after a period of incubation but some form of life, put together out of the immortal slime of potentialities?

I personally need these times of introspection greatly, not only because I’m an introvert and recharge in silence, but for the need to be alone, without distraction, just to make sense of things in general. To make sense of the entirety of life, in thought and in emotion.

When I read books I usually come to a point when I need to put them down and psychologically gnaw on the new ideas and let them percolate. Allow them space in my own psyche to simmer and assimilate. As such, sometimes I get halfway through a book, or even three-quarters, and I have to put it down to think. Then, unsurprisingly, I have a hard time picking it back up again as I let too much time elapse for mindful thought. It should be no surprise that given this predilection, I have seven books in progress right now, not counting three or so kindle books.

(This specifically applies to non-fiction; I tend to race through and lose myself in fiction books, to the detriment of all other pursuits. In this way I am very careful and cautious about introducing fiction titles to my life.)

This start and stop nature is frustrating, but as I was reading this evening and trying to revel in a large chunk of personal time in which to really sink my teeth into a book, I got fidgety. My mind’s own thoughts started to outweigh the words on the page. I had no choice but to put the book down. I could not concentrate on a single concept any longer.

I have to upshift my focus – yield to the unrelenting vastness that bubbles over and in.

When dealing with new concepts, ideas, histories, facts, spiritual themes, and even other more mundane areas of life – I absolutely lose my narrowed focus after a time, and can only gain it back and reign it in with great, great, great effort.

Introspection and rest are the only ways to gain this back without a fight. My conscious attention to details, to information gathering, becomes exhausted and I have no choice but to stop and open the aperture to bask in a larger picture of light.

So maybe this little incubation period is a necessary thing that is leading me to wonderful places; maybe it is just a resting place, to gain back energy. Either way, writing is a way to structure some of the unfocused thoughts that stream around in my unconscious opened aperture. Much needed therapy and a welcome outlet.

My “hibernation” of mind, and slow down of blog posts, are both reflections of the busy-ness of the holiday season and the uptick in general of ideation that I have been subject to in the past month. Ideation that has forced me to put the book down and gnaw and percolate.

As much as incubation is necessary, I look forward to less information gathering and more information formulation in the coming year. The pendulum swinging back from its moment of rest.

I’ve said a few times in entries here that I sometimes feel like a conduit of thought – a mere single point of light emanating out of another, grander source. Just repeating and processing what I receive. This feeling has not subsided – it has only grown, and provided a substantial foundation for my personal philosophy and spirit.

Cheers to the 2016 New Year – to new thought, upshifted focus, and the general expansion of heart.

Solemn Hearts / Christmas Wishes

My heart is in many different places on Christmas. It is joyful and playful, but also seized by a sliver of solemnity. A still silence that bows to some majesty that has either been forced upon me from outside myself, or one that is innate.

I try to grasp why, or find the true source of it, but come up incomplete.

Of course, I consider the birth of Christ – the celebration of a transcendental Son of God who came to Earth to absolve our sin and bear the ultimate sacrifice.

And of Yule and the Solstice, which celebrate the wheel of the season turning to the light and the end of the ever-darkening nights.

And of the coming together of family and friends, of food and drink, and gift giving and merriment. The child-like wonderment and excitement. None of these seems to fit the bill alone – but together, they start to build a clearer picture…

The “spirit of Christmas” and the “spirit of Christ” are imbued in this lovely holiday, but it doesn’t escape me that the actual birthdate of Christ is contested, as it should be when we travel back so far in time. December 25th also happily coincides with the Roman birthday of the Sun God, or Saturnalia. I read recently that the Roman Emperor Constantine was known to believe that Jesus Christ was the second coming of the Roman Sun God, so he conveniently interwove this Roman holiday into the Jesus canon to effectively combine the two and create more streamlined merriment in the empire, rather than have competing religious sects celebrate disconnectedly. More synchronized merriment meant a more synchronized society, right?

In this way, it feels a little hollow to be celebrating the birthday of Christ on a day chosen more to foster conformity than to celebrate a great gift to humanity.

Throw in the Solstice celebrations and the carryovers from Yule celebrations in northern Europe and you have what feels like a very piecemeal holiday. A holiday that is cobbled together from all sorts of traditions and faiths and regions of the world, to be celebrated at the same time, for synchronicity-sake.

Then throw in the consumerism – ugh! – and much of the magic of any of these things is likely to feel shortsighted.

But perhaps we find congruity in the weird oneness of it all. All of these things to be celebrated and toasted at the same time… Together, they hold more power?

Sometimes when I consider all these different elements in the mix during the holiday season, I can’t help but smirk or laugh at the solemn Christmas services, or of Christians who think there is a war to destroy the Christ in CHRISTmas. I appreciate the wonder and awe of the season and the coming together of family and friends, and even the spirit of Christ that we are celebrating, but given the Frankenstein-like nature of it all, why take it so seriously?

This year I am seeing this all through new, curious eyes. The eyes of my daughter. What is the true meaning of Christmas? Where does this unmistakable solemnity emerge from?

All these different elements combined?

Or perhaps… somewhere deeper?

When I consider how to explain that we are celebrating Jesus’s disputed birthday, and essentially (from a Christian standpoint) the starting point of redemption… I wonder how to add some additional spiritual background so that the holiday is not fixated on just materialistic components or the appropriated combination of our religious ancestries – although this is great context.

The trees and decoration and Santa and Yule and the Birthday of Jesus and Winter Solstice are not necessary components to celebrate our redemption and holiness.

They are just reminders.
Elements that enrich and add to the human experience of the holiday.
Deepen the tapestry.

I think it possible that the real redemption, the real holiness we are striving to celebrate, is our inner redemption. The redemption of our innocent nature that transcends and yet is contained at our core. Our child-like wonder.

We are all sheep in need of herding, and we need to take the shepard-ing seriously. Solemnly.

We are all children, after all.

Whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate this holiday season, I wish you much love and peace on your inner redemptive journey – wherever you find it.

Cheers, Love and Merry Christmas.

We Are the Clay, We Are the Potter

When we are born into this world, we are mushy and undefined – much more than our animal counterparts. We have a backing of DNA and genetics which can (and does) affect the trajectory of our lives, but in a large sense, we are born without the “built-in” instincts that our mammalian relatives have.

While other animals walk or run within hours of life, we humans do no such thing. We humans rely exclusively on caregivers and environment to give us our start and oil our potential. We are pretty much born a lump of clay – with all the potential our genetics can provide, but largely leaving our fate in the hands of our environment, which molds our clay to the world we live in.

In other words, we are born as an undefined “Full Slate” of much potential that the world then co-opts. We are all entirely a co-creation of the world we are born into.

What evolutionary advantage does this serve us? Dr. David Eagleman asks this question (in his TV series The Brain), and it really got me thinking. Indeed, it is a risky thing to be so heavily dependent on environmental factors in order to guide our brain development to its full potential. In the second episode of the series, he cites that our brains finish building the vast majority of neural networks by age 2. In effect, the first two years of your life have immense importance on your cognitive future. And given that social contact and human interaction is highly associated with building neural networks, if a child is missing out on these crucial components in the first two years, then they suffer for it – even potentially into adulthood if the experience was severe.

How in the world is it more advantageous for our evolution to be so dependent on the environment we are born into?

From a non-scientific, hypothetically spiritual point of view… I feel that our positive advancement forward depends on the wheel of advancement before us. One influences the other, and in an exponential way. Our positive life experiences influence future generations, and so on.

However, it is just as likely that the wheel of influence will work the other way – negatively – and then snowball the other direction.

But then – when looked at from that perspective – being born as an undefined, moldable lump of clay serves a greater purpose than we may have supposed. Even if the world is snowballing into dark, unfortunate events, the chance will still exist that we can snowball the other way. We can be re-molded. We are always born into the neutral, and could essentially “re-start” if the chance presented itself. Even as adults, our neural-plasticity can bear amazing feats.

What gives me hope is that one small act of positivity can roll fast and large into more and more positivity – faster than we thought possible. Even with the garbage of the political climate and international terrorism looming dark and ominous, I am struck by how many people that are thinking beyond it. That are being led by their hearts, and not their fear. I actually didn’t expect it at all.

It is this rhetoric that I think will lead us to the future. Leaning on our heart intelligence, our dual intelligence, is how I think we will overcome and grow in heart and spirit. And all it takes is one little snowball.

I want to take a moment to be grateful for the immense beauty of being born into a world with a vast infinite potential that is unwritten.
It is a risk – yes – but also a loving, joyful, and trusting leap of faith.

What a thing to be thankful for.

Tears of Equilibrium

Sometimes I feel that becoming a parent leaves you with your guts poured out on the floor. All of you, in its messy gloriousness, spread everywhere for the world to see.

As it is literally with childbirth, I suppose it is only rational for the rest of you – the inner, emotional you, to follow suit. The inner to mirror the outer.

But I don’t think you need to have the physical experience of birth to feel this way. To be a little “inside-out.” For the outer façade to crack a little, letting your inner ‘innocent self’ leak out. Tears streaming.

I have throughout my life felt I was naïve. Vulnerable. Maybe a bit emotional. And our culture certainly does not value being emotional or naïve. So I – like many others – have adapted my personality and behavior to avoid appearing this way, and detouring around messy spills of myself onto unsuspecting passersby.

Because the last thing anyone wants is a bunch of stares and sideways glances, of people wondering “Why is she crying? What’s happened?”
Hidden for so long under the stoic surface, emotive force was always a hairsbreadth away from cracking my calm, still demeanor. I feel that I reach this emotional cracking point, or tear-stricken ‘event horizon,’ multiple times per day. And it is not due to sadness or melancholy or grief in humanity, although those things are indeed everywhere you look.

For me, this ‘cracking point’ is most evident in ordinary moments of life. In loving my family, feeling profound love, talking about oneness, seeing people come together. By being thankful and bowing to greatness within. Being happy and moved by whatever that “Cosmic Infinite Source” is.

This makes going to any kind of church or having spiritual conversations without tears impossible. So I tend to avoid them. Or to tread with caution.

Because I don’t desire to be a blubbering mess (as society has trained me to believe is “weak” or “inappropriate” outside of grief), I close myself off. I will avoid eye contact. I won’t first reach out to hug someone in distress or sadness. I may clam up and not engage in conversation. I mentally wander away in order to avoid the subject at hand and keep my eyes dry. I push past things without realizing it. I put up walls.

I have been told many times that I am “grounded,” or calm under pressure – and I take these as great compliments. To be a calm within the storm. To exercise my control in the situation, and remain as still as the rocks at the shore. To be pummeled by the waves, but showing little evidence. But sometimes, usually after the fact, I think I come off as cold.

Cold, hard and jutty – just like those rocks.

Maybe it is okay to be a part of the storm from time to time. To join it. To feel it.

I often use these “grounded” compliments as excuses not to cry joy at everyone I meet every day. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as our neat and buttoned-up world would like me to acknowledge, but being a blubbering mess does hinder my communication verbally, and would lead to many stares and personal assumptions from others. My want to keep my emotive forces under control in daily life is my adaptive behavioral response to a messy, spiraling, stormy world around me. A world that makes assumptions and sometimes labels me unfairly – whether I wanted to be or not.

We humans like exercising control, and if we cannot control the government or the Syrian refugee response, then we can at least control our emotions and other people’s perceptions of ourselves. Right?

*

In a past entry, I hypothesized emotions as a divine ‘energy’ or ‘force’ that perhaps we pull from the Cosmic Soup and translate into a specific type of kinetic energy – emotional energy. An energy that we use to drive forward and compel our lives and that of the world.

Some energy is draining (fear and hate), and some insanely uplifting and life-giving (joy and love). Depending upon the energy you express, you will interact with and achieve typical results from either of the two.

In essence, we use our emotive forces to propel forward our world and society around us.

I read some articles recently (here and here – among others) that crying is the body’s biological response to excess stress – and that some studies show people who cry in times of duress are more likely to get their anxiety and stress more quickly under control than those that don’t.

This made me wonder…if crying is a stress response of the body, does that essentially mean it is a stress response to an overload of kinetic energy? An overdose of divine cosmic energy, flooding through you as a particular emotion? Maybe an overreaching thought, but an interesting one.

As someone who cries at ANY powerful emotion no matter what it is – anger, sadness, frustration, happiness, friendship, love, joy, passion – it seems a good explanation. It means I have just pulled too much energy for my body to biologically make sense of, so it must create a response to calm me down and get back to equilibrium. That in fact, through the act of tears, I can be swept away by the storm, but am able to be brought back to the shore more quickly and resolutely.

That in losing yourself in the tears, you will also find yourself – and ground yourself – reliably.

Even taken with a grain of skeptic’s salt, this thought gives me solace. But not necessarily the green card for sobbing at the office in order to gain equilibrium for a mounting workload.

More and more, though, my rocky surface is starting to erode. The storm starts to poke through. The stoic gates come crashing down much more easily than it ever did before.

Once you let the flood into your heart, it returns and pours fondly. Again and again.

We Are Sailors

Does God consciously make decisions or pull the strings?

I think it’s more of an interaction. As we engage with God and life, this relationship produces actions and reactions, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Depends on the type of engagement.

An intelligent source that needs agents and directors to produce and create.

An intelligent source that flows, but needs winds to move it and hearts to guide it.

We are those sailors of the heart, but we are not just sailing with the wind – we are having a hand in its direction.

Helming the ships of destiny.

***

Here is another short story I wrote regarding this same theme – sailing on the seas of the heart. Something I keep coming back to again and again.